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December 9, 2023
MRI Studios Grand Opening Event
Building a more equitable Downtown

Downtown BOOST Program

In partnership with MCB Real Estate and The Mayor’s Office, Downtown Partnership presents the BOOST Harborplace Local Tenancy Program, supporting 7 grants for Baltimore-based entrepreneurs to set up short-term retail locations at the most iconic mall in Downtown Baltimore. Winners are eligible for unrestricted grants ranging from $20,000 – 25,000, and extensive wraparound support to support openings in 2023/2024.

Apply Today
Program Deadline

The Deadline to apply for the  BOOST Harborplace Local Tenancy Program has been extended to October 13, 2023. Apply Today.

Bottom Line

By supporting innovative Black-owned businesses, this initiative will address historical and contemporary racial inequities while fostering a more dynamic, safe and vibrant downtown.

Apply for the current round of BOOST, or prepare for the future.

Program Application Materials


BOOST Harborplace Tenant Opportunities

This document includes more information on the available retail spaces.

Explore the Spaces

BOOST Harborplace Incubator 2023 Information Session

Get more info on the BOOST Harborplace Incubator Program during a Zoom info session and Q&A on September 18 at 1pm.

Register Now

2023 Business Plan Workshop

Learn more about creating a successful business plan with the Maryland Small Business Development Center.

2023 Business Plan Workshop

2023 Business Financials Workshop

Learn more about creating a complete business financial plan with Baltimore Community Lending.

2023 Boost Financials Workshop

The Who

The Downtown BOOST Program is seeking entrepreneurs that…

  1. Present a strong business plan—Applicants should demonstrate in their application they can successfully execute their concept, as evidenced by financial performance, employment levels, and capital reserves.
  2. Create a broad community impact—Priority will be given to businesses that seek to cross-pollinate with other businesses Downtown and provide signature experiences for both local residents and visitors.
  3. Have original ideas—Businesses must be creative and unique for Downtown Baltimore. Priority will be given to businesses that offer services or products that do not exist anywhere else in Baltimore.
  4. Support Downtown Baltimore’s recovery—Applicants should demonstrate in their application how their store will increase local foot traffic and attract new customers to Downtown Baltimore in the post-COVID economy.

The What

If selected to be a part of the BOOST Harborplace Incubator Program, you will receive…

  • Up to $20,000 – 25,000 toward the interior improvements and set-up of the retail space.
  • An affordable lease at one of 7 locations listed in BOOST Harborplace Tenant Opportunities document in the Application Materials section.
  • Robust technical, legal, marketing, zoning and permitting, and accounting support through the BOOST Cohort program, a short but intense business support and educational component required to receive the grant.

The Why

As in the rest of the country, storefront vacancies have increased in Downtown Baltimore due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Black-owned small business have been most at-risk for closure, and have historically had less access to capital. Additionally, targeted business incentives will ensure Downtown Baltimore’s retail sector has a swift and equitable recovery.


In order to qualify for the Downtown BOOST Program applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements.

  • Retail businesses that that have been operational and registered with the state of Maryland for at least 1 year, with preference for applicants of color
  • Applicants should currently employ at least 2 employees.
  • Qualifying retail businesses includes any small business that will operate an open, activated storefront in which goods and services are exchanged, including: include food and beverage establishments, clothing stores, markets, and specialty retailers.
  • Businesses should be currently operating in the Greater Baltimore area, with priority given to those based in Baltimore City.

Current Program Timeline

September 12, 2023: BOOST Harborplace Incubator Application Opens

September 18, 2023, 1–2 PM: Information/FAQ session hosted via Zoom

September 27, 2023, 9-11 AM: Open House for business owners interested in touring the available retail spaces. Check in at the former H&M space in the Light Street Pavillion upon arrival.

October 6, 2023: Application Deadline

October 13, 2023: NEW Application Deadline

First Week of November, 2023: Winners notified

Sponsors & Partners

Boost Harborplace Incubator is made possible by MCB Real Estate and by the Office of Mayor Brandon Scott.

BOOST Round 2 was Sponsored by Guinness Open Gate Brewery and supported by BGE. It is also supported by Baltimore Community Lending, Gross Mendelsohn, Real Projectives, Rosenberg Martin Greenberg LLP, Maryland Small Business Development Center, the Small Business Resource Center and Trout Daniel & Associates.

These Creative Businesses Stood Out from the Rest

The BOOST Class of 2023

Bmore Empowered

Bmore Empowered operates with the mission to create programming for Black girls and women in Baltimore City that provides them with the tools to live empowered lives through leadership, entrepreneurship, and holistic wellness. At the helm of Bmore Empowered are Kieta Iriarte-Amin, Nazaahah Amin, and Hana Pugh; their future storefront location is 5 N Howard St.


Website | Instagram | Facebook 



Decorelle is a luxury interior design firm that retails home furniture and decor coupled with the offering of luxury staging services. Decorelle was created by Elle Odoi and Yvette Pappoe to fill a gap in the interior design market that often fails to capture the middle-income person. Decorelle’s future storefront location is 305 N Howard St.


Website | Instagram | Facebook


From Baltimore with Love

FBWL is an apparel brand created by Brian Dawkins as a declaration to encourage a positive outlook on the city of Baltimore and its residents. FBWL allows customers to represent their city and communicate and offer intentional love. FBWL’s future storefront location is 7 N Howard St.


Website | Instagram | Facebook 


Sacred House

Sacred House’s second storefront location will provide high-quality herbal products and services to support the health and well-being of the community. Morgan Stokes will sell organic bulk herbs, herbal teas, tinctures, and health products while offering wellness consultations and events. Sacred House’s future storefront location is 417 N Howard St.


Website | Instagram | Facebook


Smith Co

Smith Co, led by Qwishuna and Von Smith, is a fashion, music, and lifestyle retail space home of Lobe’ Dangle & Pastels Goods and Co. With its roots in the intersection of music and fashion, Smith Co offers an exclusive range of premium products and services. Smith Co’s future storefront location is 100 W Lexington St.


Website | Instagram 

BOOST in the News

MRI Studios in

“When asked about the impact of being a part of the Downtown BOOST program on MRI and its opening, Welch highlighted: “Their support has been instrumental in guiding us through the process of transitioning into a physical location. They have assisted us with various aspects, including negotiating leases, designing and building out the space and determining the functionality of the space. They have also provided assistance with staffing and employee-related matters. Essentially, they have covered everything that a small business needs.”

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MRI Studios Grand Opening Event
BOOST in the News

Midday with Tom Hall (WYPR)

“We’re happy to welcome back to the show Shelonda Stokes, the president of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, to talk about the BOOST Program for African American retailers… She joins us on Zoom along with two entrepreneurs who are benefiting from the BOOST program: Bryan Robinson is the arts space proprietor of The Black Genius Art Show. LaTonya Turnage is the founding owner of Elite Secrets Bridal Boutique.”

Listen Now
BOOST in the News

Ebony Magazine

“In Baltimore, a new program is paving the way for entrepreneurs to attract and uplift Black-owned retail businesses in Downtown Baltimore neighborhoods. With support from Downtown Partnership of Baltimore’s (DPOB) Black-Owned & Occupied Storefront Tenancy Program (BOOST) program, led by Shelonda Stokes, president of DPOB. The first of its kind, BOOST’s purpose is to strengthen and revitalize the Central Business District of Baltimore by supporting small, creative Black-owned retail businesses and arm them with expert resources to set them up for success.”

— Jenn Barthole of Ebony Magazine

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Press event for Downtown BOOST Program: Presented by Fearless featuring Shelonda Stokes, Mayor Brandon Scott, Delali Dzirasa, Councilman Eric Costello, Lou Kousoris, Council President Nick Mosby, and more.
BOOST in the News

Media Rhythm Institute in BBJ

“Media Rhythm Institute’s new space will help prepare young creatives entering the media industry.


Media Rhythm Institute is seeking to change the landscape for aspiring media industry professionals through comprehensive arts education.”


— Alicia Diaz at Baltimore Business Journal

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BOOST in the News

Black Genius Art Show in BBJ

“Bryan Robinson formed his creative brainchild, The Black Genius Art Show,so people could experience his art by buying custom paintings or apparel. The East Baltimore native now wants to expand his vision and create a physical space for fellow local artists to run shows, while he mentors and curates.”


— Alicia Diaz at Baltimore Business Journal

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Black Genius art Show storefront space in Downtown Baltimore.
BOOST in the News

BOOST Winner Announcement

“Five entrepreneurs have been selected to take part in a new incubator program designed to fill empty downtown retail spaces with Black-owned businesses.”


— Ed Gunts at Baltimore Fishbowl

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LaTonya Turnage, of Elite Secrets Bridal, A Downtown BOOST program awardee.
BOOST in the News

BOOST in Baltimore Sun

“With an eye toward increasing Black-owned retail businesses in downtown Baltimore, the Downtown Partnership is launching an initiative that will pair creative Black businesses with vacant storefronts, and connect them with technical, marketing and other expertise.”



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Shelonda Stokes at Downtown Partnership